-By Warner Todd Huston
In Mississippi, Nettleton Middle School is finally doing away with its policy of portioning school class officer positions by race. As the policy stood before this month, the student officer positions were set up so that if you wanted to run for eighth grade class president you had to be white while if you wanted to be vice-president, why you had to be black.
Before you get the wrong idea, here, this is a 30-year holdover policy meant to assure that both blacks and whites were represented on the school student council in Nettleton. It isn’t a new policy by any means. This year when the memo went home to parents about the racial requirements to run for class officer positions, though, the school district was questioned on the efficacy of the practice. So, after 30 years the board finally decided to get rid of the old policy. Superintendent Russell Taylor released a statement explaining the decision made at an “emergency session” of the school board.
“It is the belief of the current administration that these procedures were implemented to help ensure minority representation and involvement in the student body. Therefore, beginning immediately, student elections at Nettleton School District will no longer have a classification of ethnicity. It is our intent that each student has equal opportunity to seek election for any student office.”
And why was this “emergency meeting” called? Why a blogger got hold of the story, of course. Suzy Richardson of www.mixedandhappy.com wrote about the policy after parent Brandy Springer alerted her to the story.
That’s right, folks, this means that once again a blogger has shed light on a questionable practice and caused local officials to take “emergency” actions. This proves the power of the New Media.
But what of this practice? Should I get outraged? I don’t think so. After all, this was a decision made by a school board operated ostensibly under local control. So, the original decision made 30 years ago may well have been necessary to stop discrimination at that local level. I am supportive if the school board then thought it was necessary to institute this policy and all the parents and local residents, all of whom had the opportunity to change the policy, agreed.
I am certain that this policy long outlived its usefulness and should have been abandoned years ago, granted, and it is likely the right decision to eliminate it today.
However, I am not prepared to get too outraged that this policy existed. I’d be against such a policy if instituted by the state or the federal government, but I am very much for local school control and if the citizens of Nettleton, Mississippi felt this policy was necessary 30 years ago, I am not too keen to second guess them in 2010.
Were it up to me, of course, I’d never agree that affirmative action is the right way to go. But, like I said, I was not a parent there nor a member of the school board.
But kudos to the school board for realizing that this old policy was out of step with modern times and even more kudos to the blogger that exposed the ridiculous policy leading to change.